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This proceeding of Mr. Fox has given a strong countenance and an encouraging example to the doctrines and practices of the Revolution and Constitutional Societies, and of other mischievous societies of that description, who, without any legal authority, and even without any corporate capacity, are in the habit of proposing, and, to the best of their power, of forming, leagues and alliances with France.
This proceeding, which ought to be reprobated on all the general principles of government, is, in a more narrow view of things, not less reprehensible. It tends to the prejudice of the whole of the Duke of Portland's late party, by discrediting the principles upon which they supported Mr. Fox in the Russian business, as if they, of that party also, had proceeded in their parliamentary opposition, on the same mischievous principles which actuated Mr. Fox in sending Mr. Adair on his embassy.
2. Very soon after his sending this embassy to Russia, that is, in the spring of 1792, a covenanting club or association was formed in London, calling itself by the ambitious and invidious title of “ The Friends of the People. It was composed of many of Mr. Fox's own most intimate, personal, and party friends, joined to a very considerable part of the members of those mischievous associations called the Revolution Society, and the Constitutional Society. Mr. Fox ( must have been well apprized of the progress of that society, in every one of its steps; if not of the very origin of it. I certainly was informed of both, who had no connexion with the design, directly or indirectly. His influence over the persons who composed the leading part in that association was, and is, unbounded. I hear that he expressed some disapprobation of this club in one case, (that of Mr. St. John,) where his consent was formally asked; yet he never attempted seriously to put a stop to the association, or to disavow it, or to control, check, or modify it in any way
what. If he had pleased, without difficulty, he might have suppressed it in its beginning. However, he did not only not suppress it in its beginning, but encouraged it in every part of its progress, at that particular time, when Jacobin clubs (under the very same, or similar titles) were making such dreadful havoc in a country not thirty miles from the coast of England, and when every motive of moral prudence
called for the discouragement of societies formed for the increase of popular pretensions to power and direction.
3. When the proceedings of this Society of the Friends of the People, as well as others acting in the same spirit, had caused a very serious alarm in the mind of the Duke of Portland, and of many good patriots, he publicly, in the House of Commons, treated their apprehensions and conduct with the greatest asperity and ridicule. He condemned and vilified, in the most insulting and outrageous terms, the proclamation issued by government on that occasion—though he well knew, that it had passed through the Duke of Portland's hands, that it had received his fullest approbation, and that it was the result of an actual interview between that noble duke and Mr. Pitt. During the discussion of its merits in the House of Commons, Mr. Fox courtenanced and justified the chief promoters of that association; and he received, in return, a public assurance from them of an inviolable adherence to him, singly and personally. On account of this proceeding, a very great number (I presume to say not the least grave and wise part) of the Duke of Portland's friends in parliament, and many out of parliament, who are of the same description, have become separated from that time to this from Mr. Fox's particular cabal; very few of which cabal are, or ever have, so much as pretended to be attached to the Duke of Portland, or to pay any respect to him or his opinions.
4. At the beginning of this session, when the sober part of the nation was a second time generally and justly alarmed at the progress of the French arms on the continent, and at the spreading of their horrid principles and cabals in England, Mr. Fox did not (as had been usual in cases of far less moment) call together any meeting of the Duke of Portland's friends in the House of Commons, for the purpose of taking their opinion on the conduct to be pursued in parliament at that critical juncture. He concerted his measures (if with any persons at all) with the friends of Lord Lansdowne, and those calling themselves Friends of the People, and others not in the smallest degree attached to the Duke of Portland; by which conduct he wilfully gave up (in my opinion) all pretensions to be considered as of that party, and much more to be considered as the leader and mouth of
it in the House of Commons. This could not give much encouragement to those who had been separated from Mr. Fox, on account of his conduct on the first proclamation, to rejoin that party,
5. Not having consulted any of the Duke of Portland's party in the House of Commons; and not having consulted them, because he had reason to know, that the course he had resolved to pursue would be highly disagreeable to them, he represented the alarm, which was a second time given and taken, in still more invidious colours than those in which he painted the alarms of the former year. He described those alarms in this manner, although the cause of them was then grown far less equivocal, and far more urgent. He even went so far as to treat the supposition of the growth of a Jacobin spirit in England as a libel on the nation. As to the danger from abroad, on the first day of the session, he said little or nothing upon the subject. He contented himself with defending the ruling factions in France, and with accusing the public councils of this kingdom of every sort of evil design on the liberties of the people; declaring distinctly, strongly, and precisely, that the whole danger of the nation was from the growth of the power of the crown.
The policy of this declaration was obvious. It was in subservience to the general plan of disabling us from taking any steps against France. To counteract the alarm given by the progress of Jacobin arms and principles, he endeavoured to excite an opposite alarm concerning the growth of the power of the
If that alarm should prevail, he knew that the nation never would be brought by arms to oppose the growth of the Jacobin empire; because it is obvious that war does, in its very nature, necessitate the Commons considerably to strengthen the hands of government; and if that strength should itself be the object of terror, we could have no war.
6. In the extraordinary and violent speeches of that day, he attributed all the evils which the public had suffered, to the proclamation of the preceding summer; though he spoke in presence of the Duke of Portland's own son, the Marquis of Titchfield, who had seconded the address on that proclamation; and in presence of the Duke of Portland's brother, Lord Edward Bentinck, and several others of his best friends and nearest relations.
7. On that day, that is, on the 13th of December, 1792, he proposed an amendment to the address, which stands on the journals of the House, and which is, perhaps, the most extraordinary record which ever did stand upon them. To introduce this amendment, he not only struck out the part of the proposed address which alluded to insurrections, upon the ground of the objections which he took to the legality of calling together parliament, (objections which I must ever think litigious and sophistical,) but he likewise struck out that part which related to the cabals and conspiracies of the
French faction in England, although their practices and correspondences were of public notoriety. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Watt had been deputed from Manchester to the Jacobins. These ambassadors were received by them as British representatives. Other deputations of English had been received at the bar of the National Assembly. They had gone the length of giving supplies to the Jacobin armies ; and they in return had received promises of military assistance to forward their designs in England. A regular correspondence for fraternizing the two nations had also been carried on by societies in London with a great number of the Jacobin societies in France. This correspondence had also for its object the pretended improvement of the British constitution.—What is the most remarkable, and by much the more mischievous part of his proceedings that day, Mr. Fox likewise struck out everything in the address which related to the tokens of ambition given by France, her aggressions upon our allies, and the sudden and dangerous growth of her power upon every side ; and instead of all those weighty, and, at that time, necessary matters, by which the House of Commons was (in a crisis, such as perhaps Europe never stood) to give assurances to our allies, strength to our government, and a check to the common enemy of Europe, he substituted nothing but a criminal charge on the conduct of the British government for calling parliament together, and an engagement to inquire into that conduct.
8. If it had pleased God to suffer him to succeed in this his project for the amendment to the address, he would for ever have ruined this nation, along with the rest of Europe. At home all the Jacobin societies, formed for the utter destruction of our constitution, would have lifted up
which had been beaten down by the two proclamations. Those societies would have been infinitely strengthened and multiplied in every quarter; their dangerous foreign communications would have been left broad and open;
the crown would not have been authorized to take any measure whatever for our immediate defence by sea or land. The closest, the most natural, the nearest, and, at the same time, from many internal as well as external circumstances, the weakest of our allies, Holland, would have been given up, bound hand and foot, to France, just on the point of invading that republic. A general consternation would have seized upon all Europe ; and all alliance with
power, except France, would have been for ever rendered impracticable to us.
I think it impossible for any man, who regards the dignity and safety of his country, or indeed the common safety of mankind, ever to forget Mr. Fox's proceedings in that tremendous crisis of all human affairs.
9. Mr. Fox very soon had reason to be apprized of the general dislike of the Duke of Portland's friends to this conduct. Some of those who had even voted with him, the day after their vote expressed their abhorrence of his amendment, their sense of its inevitable tendency and their total alienation from the principles and maxims upon
which it was made ; yet, the very next day, that is, on Friday the 14th of December, he brought on what in effect was the very same business, and on the same principles, a second time.
10. Although the House does not usually sit on Saturday, he a third time brought on another proposition, in the same spirit, and pursued it with so much heat and perseverance
as to sit into Sunday; a thing not known in parliament for many years.
11. 'In all these motions and debates he wholly departed from all the political principles relative to France, (considered merely as a state, and independent of its Jacobin form of government,) which had hitherto been held fundamental in this country, and which he had himself beld more strongly than any man in parliament. He at that time studiously separated himself from those to whose sentiments he used to profess no small regard, although those sentiments were publicly declared. I had then no concern in the party, having been for some time, with all outrage, excluded from